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Your Tax Dollars At Work - New Site Tells All: Growing Green $$ in NM

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 By Eric MackContact
September 21, 2010

SANTA FE, N.M. - As taxes and federal spending heat up debate this election season, it helps to "follow the money trail." Turns out taxpayers have helped boost one of the most promising parts of New Mexico's economy - renewable energy.

Marcus Peacock is project director of SubsidyScope, an online clearinghouse of information about federal subsidies, grants, contracts and more, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Peacock says the fossil fuel industry used to bring home much of the federal bacon in the energy sector, but green energy is catching up quickly.

"In the energy sector, New Mexico was receiving about, on average, about $40 million in grants since the year 2000, and then suddenly in 2009 more than doubled to over $100 million. A lot of it has to do with grant monies going to the state energy program to encourage and promote renewable energy."

While some criticize the increase, which is largely tied to the national stimulus program, others point out that renewable energy subsidies are doing what they're supposed to: helping small businesses and non-profits create jobs like building solar panels or weatherizing homes.

Peacock predicts that cleaner and renewable forms of energy development will continue to get an increased share of taxpayer support, but funding for the entire energy sector - including fossil fuels and nuclear - will continue to increase dramatically in the coming years.

"Total tax subsidies for the energy sector will go from its current total of about $6 billion to over $21 billion just in a few years."

Available, and free, SubsidyScope currently includes data on the financial bailout as well as the transportation, energy and non-profit sectors. Peacock says they'll soon roll out data on housing, health care, agriculture and other areas.

The site is www.subsidyscope.org

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